be brave on a Kenyan safari

by Elise Wallace

There are stories that float around, get passed along and catch our attention. During the summer, I kept hearing about a woman who carried Be Brave on a Kenyan safari. I have a personal connection to that part of the world: I studied wildlife management in Nairobi National Park. The landscape oozes with adventure, incredible animals and wonderfully hospitable people.

Susan Grimes decided to walk across Kenya to celebrate her 70th birthday [wow]. She is a D.C. native and a never goes anywhere without a bandana or a hanky. She said she “loved the inspiration and idea of a talisman” – so I knew that her story was going to be great.


Susan in Kenya, ready to hike!


You recently went on a Kenyan safari. That’s amazing. Tell me a little bit about your trip.

I hiked across two of their National Parks and it was an epic 100 mile walk!  I did the trip as a 70th birthday present to myself; to prove that 70 is only a number. And did I mention, I’m not a hiker?

I went alone because it was all about me.

The tour was 10 days and we hiked 10 miles a day. We were up at 6am, ate breakfast, and were walking by 7am. One day we had to cross a crocodile and hippo infested river!  When our seasoned and charming guide was asked why the river crossings were not described in the brochure, he laughed and said, “Because no one would come!” We did 19 crossings and all were a bit nerve wracking as the river got stronger and wider and crocs and hippos watched. Thankfully, all seven of our group made it!

We walked across the Kenyan safari single file, no talking, with our guide and five guards. It was very very meditative. I got to see abundant wildlife, up close and personal.  The staff moved our camp while we walked. We got to the next camp in time for lunch then had a nice siesta during the heat of the day until around 4pm when we had tea and prepared for evening game viewing in Land Rovers. I loved kicking my shoes off and sitting on top of the Land Rover barreling across the park.

Tsavo Park is about 8000 sq. miles and we were the only folks around. At dark we were back to camp for a long anticipated hot shower in a hanging bucket contraption. We then had cocktails at the bonfire and a delicious dinner with great wine and conversation in the mess tent.  Lights out at 9pm for enough sleep to get going the next morning!


Susan at her tent, observing wildlife


What Jenni Earle bandana did you take? Why did you choose/buy that one?

I took the Be Brave bandana because that says it all.

My other talisman was my old Brownie Scout pin, but I lost it on the first day. I couldn’t decide if that was a sign, but I laughed at the idea of someone finding it in the vast wilderness!  I must say I carried the Be Brave bandana every day and used it in every way imaginable; it came in most handy when I badly cut my arm and tied the bandana tight to stem the bleeding.  Luckily, our staff did wash every day so I was out the next day with a clean bandana.     


Can you describe a moment that you felt the most brave and adventurous on your trip? Or at all in your life?

When did I feel most brave on the trip, or elsewhere in my life?  Honestly, I think it takes bravery to just get up in the morning.

I think it is a tough world and it is not easy to navigate no matter who you are, so just putting one foot in front of the other is the only way to get a payoff.

Jenni seems to have captured my philosophy – “Be Brave” or “Feel the fear – do it anyway.”  I felt that way on the trip when I didn’t think I would make it through the first day, but my elation when finishing was worth all the pain.

• • •

I’m honored to hear Susan’s story and I hope you feel the same. I can absolutely identify with her advice to place one foot in front of the other; whether I’m hiking or working on a piece of writing – moving forward is the best way to reach a goal, and grow.


share your adventures with us:

be adventurous
be brave
be you